From his recent Anything EP to his Lyrics to GO series, KOTA The Friend has proven to be one of the most exciting lyricists in the game right now. The Brooklyn artist leaves no stone unturned in his clever raps, crafting a soothing sound fit for any playlist. In addition to several headlining shows, KOTA has also shared the stage with the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Lakim, and Blackillac. KOTA also just launched his podcast KWALITY KONTROL, another outlet for him to share his perspective on the industry.
We recently had the pleasure of catching up with KOTA and his journey. Check out the full interview after the jump:
For those unfamiliar, who is KOTA The Friend?
KOTA The Friend is an artist from Brooklyn, New York just doing what he loves and enjoying the ride.
Where did your name come from?
The name Koda is Native American for “the friend,” but I liked the KOTA spelling so I kinda just put those two together.
How did you get into making music?
I’ve always been into music. I’ve been in arts schools since junior high and have been playing instruments since I was in 3rd grade. I grew up with music as my form of expression.
As the director and editor of many of your videos, is that a skill that you picked up along the way with music or was it something you were interested in before?
I learned to shoot, direct and edit in order to make money when I was going through some hard times and for years I focused on mastering those things. I didn’t make music at all for 3 years. When I got back to making music, I used those skills to push my career.
Growing up in Brooklyn, how has the city influenced your career?
I’ve always been around a lot of talent so it’s competitive. I was always trying to be better.
Earlier this year, you released one of my favorite projects titled Anything. How did the EP come together and what do you want listeners to take away?
The first song I made off that project was “Smile.” I loved that sound so much that I just kept making new songs that were in the same realm. I wanted it to be a project based on freedom and self love.
You also just finished up the Anything. tour. What was the experience like and do you have a favorite moment from the tour?
It was a dope experience waking up in a different city every night. It was like all of my problems were on pause for a while. We drove for hours at a time listening to music and just having a good time. Meeting new people at the shows and having people singing my lyrics back to me was an unforgettable experience.
You’re about 20 episodes into your Lyrics to GO videos. What inspired the series?
At the time I didn’t have money to get someone to shoot my videos and I realized that i needed to put visuals out to increase visibility on social media so I came up with the idea of 1 minute videos that I can film myself. I edited them in a cinematic way to make it look interesting and I started putting those out every week.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and creatives?
Just focus on creating more art. Don’t let the industry politics discourage you. Focus on making good music. Don’t expect anything from anyone other than yourself.
What’s up next for you?
I’ll be performing at Rocking The Daisies Festival in Cape Town, South Africa in October. I’ll also be touring Europe in October. I have shows in Dublin, Paris, London and Amsterdam.